Maersk Delft / Delft Seaways,
Maersk Dover / Dover Seaways
& Maersk Dunkerque / Dunkerque Seaways

These three identical ships have helped dramatically alter the stakes in the Cross-Channel ferry industry. Norfolkline came from nowhere in 2000 to overtake Seafrance in recent years and establish itself as the second biggest operator in terms of freight and passenger carryings. Until the arrival of P. & O.'s Spirit of Britain, the 'D' Class were the largest ferries sailing from Dover and have received much acclaim for the standard of their accommodation and the facilities that they offer. Since entering service between 2005 and 2006 they have attracted volumes of tourist traffic that simply could not be handled on the previous 'Racehorse' series of vessels (that, for all intents and purposes, were freighters with very modest passenger capacities).

Maersk Dunkerque was the first to be delivered, followed by Maersk Delft then last, but not least, Maersk Dover. They were all fitted out in virtually the same schemes of decor and furnishings so there is very little to tell them apart. They embodied some strikingly modern exterior design features (such as the two deck high panoramic windows at their bow end) with a few classic touches such as the very traditionally shaped funnels. Lorries are carried on the main and upper vehicle decks whilst cars are housed in a separate low-height garage just below the passenger accommodation. They are powerful and extremely capacious vessels which have proven an enormous success. Their offer is distinctly different to that of their rivals. It seems that the market isn't in the least bit detered by the slightly longer crossing to Dunkerque, and little doubt the 'book early - pay less' ethos has done much to attract new trade. Much to the delight of discerning passengers, coach parties are not carried!

As of July 2010, Norfolkline became part of the D. F. D. S. Group and a gradual phasing in of the 'D. F. D. S. Seaways' brand was undertaken at Dover. The 'Maersk' prefix to the vessels' names was removed. At the same time the equally uninspiring suffix of 'Seaways' was introduced. Funnels lost their Maersk seven-pointed stars in favour of the D. F. D. S. Maltese cross. Otherwise it was business as usual. Many anticipate that the 'D' Class will continue to dominate the Dover Straits for many years to come.

Here Delft Seaways looks very smart in her new D. F. D. S. Seaways livery introduced in January 2011. Curiously the Company's Dover-based fleet features the trademark lettering in navy on their superstructures, as opposed to in white on their hulls. This somewhat defeats the objective of a coherent corporate look for all D. F. D. S. vessels.
Photo: Richard Jordan.

A splendid view from above St. Margaret's Bay, as Dunkerque bound Dover Seaways is passed to starboard by her identical sister, Delft Seaways on a blustery Channel.
Photo: Richard Jordan.